Round Table Technology
Social Enterprise

Presbyterian Night Shelter expands social enterprise with TRWD partnership

Presbyterian Night Shelter’s employment-based social enterprise, UPSIPRE, uses the power of business to create substantial and lasting social change for their clients and the Fort Worth area by removing or reducing barriers to employment for the unhoused.

After successfully partnering with Trinity River Water District (TRWD) on other projects, the collaboration will formalize their partnership with the LAUNCH Initiative, a 3 -year program that combines on-the-job training and education opportunity.

To keep its property properly maintained, TRWD needs to hire up to 20 seasonal employees each year to take care of its 2,000 acres of property along the Trinity River in Fort Worth. After three years of being unable to fill these seasonal positions,

As a result, this year, in an effort to meet its employment needs, TRWD is working with UpSpire, a company associated with the Presbyterian Night Shelter, to provide it with workers to keep up its parks, levees and trails.

Candidates for this program will be recommended by UPSPIRE but anyone from the community can apply.

The workers will primarily work along the 29-mile-long Fort Worth floodway and Marine Creek Lake. They will perform typical “farm hand” tasks such as mowing, operating equipment, building fences, forestry and light welding.

The UpSpire employees selected for the LAUNCH Initiative program will work 40 hours a week at $18 an hour with benefits. Thirty hours a week will be labor-intensive on-the-job training, with 10 hours per week focused on education.

Initial training will be provided by TRWD, but the second and potentially third years of instruction – leading to certifications in such things as welding, mechanics and equipment operation – will include courses provided by Tarrant County College.

Not everyone who completes the LAUNCH Initiative program – which is also open to individuals who are not UpSpire employees – will be offered a job at TRWD. But they can use their education to seek other employment.

“The ideal thing is to be able to fill all the roles, to provide the public with the well-maintained assets that they’ve grown accustomed to, with a very important by product of taking someone who might have a had a difficult time in their life and give them a chance, said Darrell Beason, Chief Operating Officer of the TWRD. “If they’ll take a chance on us to do this very difficult work, this hands-on labor…If they’ll take a chance on us, we’ll take a chance on them.

ABOUT UPSPIRE

UpSpire’s mission is to create employment that reduces or removes barriers that contribute to homelessness. Open to all who want to work, the program provides gainful employment, case management support, and job skill development to aid enterprise staff during their tenure. 

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About the author

Barbara Clark Galupi